On the way — Drive-By Truckers, Oct. 28 at George’s

July 10th, 2014 at 11:41 am

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With all the rain today, we may end up with some Fayetteville Oceans. The song above is “Made Up English Oceans,” and it’s courtesy of the Drive-By Truckers.

Southern rockers and consummate bar band Drive-By Truckers have recently extended their tour in support of the March album “English Oceans.”

That’s good news for Northwest Arkansas, because the tour now passes through our area. The group’s almost never-ending tour has visited Fayetteville before, but not in several years. The newly scheduled performance on Oct. 28 takes place in the same venue they visited in 2009 — George’s Majestic Lounge.

The date appears on the band’s website, and it also appears on George’s ticketing website. No prices are listed, but according to the George’s site, tickets go on sale at 1 a.m. tomorrow (July 11).

Concert review: Willie Nelson, July 7 at the AMP

July 9th, 2014 at 8:47 am

Willie Nelson. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Media.

Willie Nelson. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Media.

What remains to be said about Willie Nelson?

What we already know about the man/music icon/Texan/jazz artist/outlaw/everyman makes him one of the more fascinating characters to ever grace a stage.

Some of those things we know well: his near failings as a musician before eventual success, his smoking of weed long before Colorado and Washington ever considered legalizing it, his fondness for a beat-up old guitar and his lack of fondness for the Internal Revenue Service.

And, of course, his ability to write a beautiful song.

How well you know these things and how much they do or don’t endear you to Nelson likely colored your experiences at his Monday night (July 7) show at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion. Joined by premiere openers Alison Krauss and Union Station and Jason Isbell, it combined for an uncomfortably packed venue. Krauss and Isbell certainly drew several fans of their own, but this was Nelson’s show.

Rarely have I heard such a great rift in opinions regarding a live music show. Concerts can create their own special magic, and if they achieve that threshold, the audience knows it. A lackluster concert usually yields an appropriately lackluster response. Yet last night, I heard conviction from both sides of the good or bad argument, and much fewer from those in the middle. More simply put, you loved this show, or you just as strongly did not love it.

With a backdrop of a Texas state flag, like always.

With a backdrop of a Texas state flag, like always.

I suspect those coming into the show having already appointed him a saint-in-waiting found little to dissuade them. His trademark slightly-off-the-mark vocal phrasings were, well, slightly off the mark. His guitar fretwork, even at 81 years of age, was lightning quick. He played the pretty riff in “On the Road Again” faster than he ever played it on an album. He played so many of his hits, and he led off, like he always does, with “Whiskey River.” He strummed so hard and so quickly I kept worrying he’d punch another hole in Trigger, his guitar of many decades.

I further suspect those walking in with indifference remained so, or worse. A Willie Nelson concert is in some ways a lesson in rote recitation — he has, after all, led off with the aforementioned “Whiskey River” at every show for the past two decades, I think. Willie’s vocal and instrumental ramblings can be disorienting. Even if you know the song well, the way it’s offered in the present makes it difficult to sing. No one sings quite like Willie, and even though his voice has lost some of its sustain — he kept talking through what he once sung — his voice still sounds as it always has. Still, I get the criticisms, with the partial songs, the halting voice and the sometimes waning energy.

Willie NelsonWEB002What does that leave everyone with? Not much in the way of newness. He released a new album, “Band of Brothers,” just three weeks ago. He played only one of the songs from that album, the title track. His setlist instead was populated with his own hits and traditional country standards from the likes of Kris Kristopherson, Billy Joe Shaver and even Toby Keith.

But it’s a lyric from “Band of Brothers” I keep going back to when I think about Monday night’s show. “We’re a band of brothers and sisters and whatever / On a mission to break all the rules.”

That latter part has always been Nelson’s way — from the marijuana to the tax issues to the way he delivers music. It takes a stout jazz band behind him — you know Willie Nelson’s music is deeply rooted in French guitar jazz, right? — to keep up with Nelson, filling in behind or catching up when he goes on tangents, which is often.

He offered a tangent later in the set, although it too was part of a Nelson standard. Three members of Alison Krauss and Union Station — Krauss, Jerry Douglas and Dan Tyminski — and opening act Jason Isbell all joined Nelson for a closing run of traditional gospel songs such as “I’ll Fly Away” and “Will the Circle be Unbroken.”

That threw a little life into the proceedings and closed the briskly paced 80-minute set.

Five minutes after the last note rang out, a nice tour bus, the one I assume is Nelson’s, rolled off the AMP grounds.

Jerry Douglas, left, and Alison Krauss of Union Station

Jerry Douglas, left, and Alison Krauss of Union Station

Periodically, Krauss and company could have used a little of that spark in their 75-minute co-headlining set. With the size of the crowd, and considering the volume of the audience members who were talking, I struggled to hear Krauss on several songs. On softer numbers, such as the gorgeous a capella gospel number “Down to the River to Pray,” members of the crowd took to shushing those around them, meaning no one got what they wanted. That song, and likewise “When You Say Nothing At All,” were almost inaudible. That’s a shame.

Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell

The set did contain a few surprises, however. Krauss could also barely be heard in her between-song banter, and although she introduced guitarist Dan Tyminski as the voice behind George Clooney’s character in “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?,” the crowd seemed shocked at hearing the familiar chords and voice. Kind of like the famous scene in the movie, where everyone goes wild at the recognition of a great track. In fact, I’d venture to say that during a night filled with carefully created and followed set lists, the most unpredictable element of the night was the crowd. I never seemed to know which song would amuse, bring them to their feet or silence them.

The stellar musicianship, meanwhile, continued with Union Station, particularly courtesy of Jerry Douglas, who many of us got to watch at last year’s Fayetteville Roots Festival.

That followed the excellence of Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. My love for that group is well documented. To wit:

But the band, just as the others did, seemed lethargic coming out of the gates. It’s hard to appease any crowd that’s walking through the gates when you’re onstage. Even so, Isbell’s best song from his best album, a tune called “Cover Me Up” from 2013′s “Southeastern,” drew a yell of recognition at its start.

That’s how much of the night went for the performers, actually. Hollers when the songs began, and extended applause at their conclusion, with little in between. Everyone who wanted to yell could, and everyone who wanted to wonder what the fuss was about had the same chance.

P.S. If it matters, I own six Willie Nelson albums on vinyl, and I think he’s great.

Soon in tunes: Everyone is Dirty, July 8 at Lightbulb Club

July 7th, 2014 at 1:41 pm

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Everyone is Dirty performs “I’m Ok.” Note: There’s an instance of rock-star language in the video clip that follows the song.

Oakland, California band Everyone is Dirty will bring their blend of noise rock, punk and classical music to the Lightbulb Club on Tuesday (July 8). The stop comes as part of the band’s “Hot N’ Bothered” tour of the southwest. Joining them at the 9 p.m. show will be Witchsister and High Lonesome.

Dan Tyminski on unions — Union Station, and one with Avicii

July 4th, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Alison Krauss and Union Station

Alison Krauss and Union Station

Dan Tyminski did not know what to make of Swedish EDM act Avicii. That’s to be expected — Tyminski is a wildly talented multi-instrumentalist who operates in the bluegrass world, and Avicii is one of the most popular draws in the growing electronic world. Those genres rarely collide.

After receiving a pitch to collaborate, Tyminski recorded his part of a song, called “Hey Brother.” Avicii added the rest. The result was a smash hit that went to the top of the pop charts in a dozen countries.

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Tyminski called Avicii a “genius” and was surprised how well it worked.

He’s since been playing the song live with Alison Krauss and Union Station, one of the best-known bluegrass bands in the world. Tyminski has been a member of Union Station since 1994. Tyminski will also likely offer up a take on “Man of Constant Sorrow,” which he recorded for the “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack.

That’s in addition to the Union Station songs that will be performed during the evening. Of course, all that comes before the evening’s headliner, Willie Nelson, takes the stage. Tyminski chatted with me recently about the breaks that have taken him to these career highlights. Read my story in today’s What’s Up! section, which is available in the Northwest Arkansas Media daily newspapers and also online [Note: Subscriber content].

The tour, featuring Nelson, Union Station and songwriter Jason Isbell comes to the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion on Monday (July 7). Music starts at 7 p.m. Admission ranges from $39-$99.

Also, can I beg something of you really fast? PLEASE get there for the opening act. Jason Isbell, and in particular, the songs from his latest album, are not to be missed. You can thank me later.

See you at the show?

The weekend in live music, with Silo and more

July 3rd, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Silo

Silo

For years now, I’ve been posting weekend music guides. They go up on Friday mornings, like clockwork.

But what if the weekend starts early? As in the Fourth of July takes over Friday and everyone gets a head start?

Welcome to what I believe is the first Thursday edition of the weekend guide. Speaking of First Thursday, an event by that name in Fayetteville takes place this evening (July 3). Isayah’s Allstars will provide the main stage entertainment.

As for the rest of the weekend, an Arkansas native returns home for a few days and a few gigs.

Describing themselves as “not quite bluegrass,” but having a banjo, and “not quite old time” but having a folk accordion, the duo Silo will make two stops in Fayetteville this weekend. Featuring Arkansas native Jennifer Jeffers and her musical partner Renee Arozqueta, the band will perform from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday (July 5) at Smoke & Barrel Tavern and from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday (July 6) at Dickson Street Pub.

Another option this weekend? Maybe go for a Hike(s).

Inspired by nature in both the name of the band and the songs they write, Austin, Texas, band Hikes will perform Saturday at The Lightbulb Club in Fayetteville. The group combines folk instrumentation with technical work, calling its sound math-folk. Hikes released a new self-titled EP on June 20. Joined by Captain Nowhere, the show will begin at 9 p.m. Admission is $5.

Saturday, two very appropriately named bands will perform in the area. Bottlerocket takes the stage at JJ’s Grill in Fayetteville. Matt Reeves and the All Americans are set for a gig at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe in Eureka Springs.

I hope your weekend is festive. And music filled, too.

Soon in tunes: The Highberry Festival, Byrd’s Adventure Center

July 2nd, 2014 at 11:41 am

Keller Williams

Keller Williams

Within weeks of a four-day music festival in the Ozark National Forest area of Franklin County comes another. The annual Highberry Music Festival at Byrd’s Adventure Center, located on the Mulberry River north of Ozark, returns Thursday (July 3) through July 6. Performing at the festival are acts such as Keller Williams, pictured, Bluetech, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Dirtfoot and about two dozen others. Pricing ranges from $50 for a one-day pass to $80 for a three-day pass. For details, a schedule and lineup, visit highberryfestival.com.

Scott Stapp: Sober, solo and saved (and coming to Arkansas tomorrow)

July 1st, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Scott Stapp photo by Jeremy Cowart

Scott Stapp photo by Jeremy Cowart

It’s a oft-repeated tale in the music industry. A big star crashes hard, and they are usually to blame.

But the magnitude of those rises and subsequent falls are rarely as great as those experienced by Scott Stapp, former lead singer of Creed.

And rarely do those tales have positive second chapter.

Creed ends up as the butt of many jokes now, but at one time they were one of the biggest bands in the world. In the era where physical copies of albums still sold, Creed pushed more than 50 million units. In the 2000s, only two rock bands sold more albums — The Beatles and Linkin Park.

But rock stardom got the best of the band. In-fighting and Stapp’s addictions derailed the group.

Then, quietly, Scott Stapp got sober. He and the other members of Creed parted ways, so he released a solo album, “Proof of Life.” That followed an autobiography called “Sinner’s Creed” in which Stapp owns up to many of his previous failings.

He discussed his past candidly with me in a recent interview before a concert in Pittsburgh. You can read a story I wrote for What’s Up!, our arts and entertainment guide [Note: Subscriber content].

Stapp says he’s more focused than ever. He says he’s performing better than ever, too. And he’ll try to back up that claim on Wednesday (July 2) when he brings his solo show to Fort Smith. His show takes place at Neumeier’s Rib Room. Tickets are $20-$25 and are available through the venue’s website.

The best music of 2014 (so far)

June 30th, 2014 at 11:17 am

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I believe this is the first cat video I’ve every uploaded to the blog. My contributions to the Internet might have just peaked. This one doubles as a video for Parquet Court’s song “Sunbathing Animal.”

Say farewell to the first half of the year.

Say hello to these albums, which I consider some of the best from the first half of 2014.

Like I do every year, I’ll compile a list of my favorite albums from the year in late December. But the halfway point is a good time to pause and remember what’s out there.

What follows is a list of several of the albums I’m enjoying from this year, in no particular order. Some will likely make my best-of list. Some likely will not:

Parquet Courts‘ noise pop album “Sunbathing Animal”

Temples‘ dreamy psychedelic album “Sun Structures”

Rosanne Cash‘s personal rumination album “The River & The Thread”

Hurray for the Riff Raff‘s character sketch album “Small Town Heroes” — an aside: This band is scheduled for the upcoming Fayetteville Roots Festival

Beck‘s throwback to early Beck album “Morning Phase”

St. Paul and the Broken Bones‘ dance friendly neo-soul album “Half the City”

Strand of Oaks‘ cathartic rock album “Heal”

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks‘ weird, riff-heavy album “Wig Out at Jagbags”

What’s caught your attention so far this year?

Soon in tunes: Sammy Hagar, June 28 at Downstream

June 27th, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Sammy Hagar

Sammy Hagar

A man known for many things — singing, selling booze and as a restaurateur — will visit Downstream Casino west of Joplin, Mo., for a show Saturday (June 28). Also known as The Red Rocker, solo artist and former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar will perform at 8 p.m. at Downstream. For this visit, Hagar will be backed by The Wabos. Admission to the show ranges from $30 to $75, and tickets are available through downstreamcasino.com or through the casino’s gift shop.

The weekend in music, with Jail Weddings and more

June 27th, 2014 at 5:03 am

Jail Weddings

Jail Weddings

There are no World Cup games today (June 27). Or matches. Whichever. I’m kind of new at this.

What ever will you do?

Let me suggest watching some live music.

A band from Los Angeles visits here tonight, and it should be a good time.

The small stage at The Lightbulb Club in Fayetteville will soon host a large band. Eight-piece Los Angeles outfit Jail Weddings will perform at the venue tonight on a tour in support of a new album “Meltdown – A Declaration of Unpopular Emotion.” The group combines a lot of West Coast styles from Phil Spector to early punk. Joining in for the evening will be The Airplanes. Admission to the 10 p.m. show is $5.

Friday night isn’t the only opportunity to see live music, of course.

Saturday (June 28) morning, Jed Clampit serves up his tunes at the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market. He has the Jammin’ Java stage beginning about 9 a.m.

Eureka Springs sibling band Sx Rex has a pair of shows this weekend. Catch them at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe in Eureka Springs tonight or at Smoke and Barrel Tavern on Saturday.

What’s on your live music agenda?